government


ATTN: HISTORY BUFFS

I just finished reading Clint Hill’s book Five Presidents. Two years ago I read his book Mrs. Kennedy and Me. I loved both books, didn’t want to put either one down as I was reading it, and was sad when each ended.

Clint Hill (a Secret Service agent from 1958 to 1975) and his coauthor Lisa McCubbin are gifted writers who do an excellent job conveying the humanity of five of our presidents and their families. Due to having occupied such a front row seat during some of the most tumultuous years in our history, Mr. Hill opened a window for his readers to peek behind the scenes during the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy; the race riots; the anti-war demonstrations; Watergate; and the resignations of Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon.

If you want to be transported in time to these years in the United States, I highly recommend reading one or both of these books. I am fairly certain you will get so immersed in the words that you will feel like you are actually present during these events alongside Clint Hill.

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I am getting really fed up with all the controversy surrounding whether NFL players stand or sit or kneel for the national anthem. I believe that one of the wonderful things about this country is that individuals can refuse to stand for the national anthem or can burn or stomp on the American flag without fear that they will be shot or imprisoned. As far as I’m concerned that is freedom worth celebrating!

I further believe that this in no way minimizes what the flag stands for or insults those who have served in the armed forces. As a matter of fact, I think that it honors those who have served and sacrificed much, if not all, for our freedoms. Fighting for the freedom of ALL Americans, not just the Americans one happens to agree with, is indeed something to be honored.

Today those of us who live in the United States celebrate our political freedom. It is ours simply because we are Americans. We don’t have to do anything to get it. Political freedom was obtained for us by individuals who paid very high prices to obtain it, such as:

Cost of the American Revolution:
• Total American military casualties were approximately 50,000 men.
• Of these 50,000, approximately 8000 died in battle; 17,000 died from disease.
• Of the 17,000 that died from disease 8-12 thousand of these contracted diseases while living in the deplorable conditions of rotting prison ships in NY harbor.
• Another 2500 Americans died while encamped at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778.

Cost of the Civil War:
• Casualties were approximately 750,000 soldier deaths.
• Of those 750,000 soldiers, 56,000 died in prisons.
• Another 60,000 men lost limbs.

Spiritual freedom is also available to those who want it. The price that was paid for spiritual freedom was also very high. It was bought and paid for by one man. Jesus Christ obtained spiritual freedom for us at Calvary. Spiritual freedom, however, is not automatic like political freedom. We have to do 3 things to obtain our spiritual freedom. Those 3 things are: 1. Accept Jesus’s work on the cross as a personal gift; 2. Give our lives to him to do with as he pleases; 3. Lay our hurts, habits & hang-ups at the foot of the cross & LEAVE THEM THERE!

Political freedom and spiritual freedom are very different and do not necessarily coexist. It is possible to be politically free and be in spiritual bondage. It is also possible to be spiritually free and be in political bondage. Political freedom is being released from the bonds of others. Spiritual freedom is being released from the bonds of self.

The Apostle Paul discusses spiritual freedom in his various letters. Paul’s calling, the assignment God gave him, was to travel throughout the known world preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and planting churches. He would stay in a certain location for a period of time, plant a church and move on. He stayed connected to the churches he planted by writing letters to them.

Toward the end of his ministry Paul spent approximately 2 years in a Roman prison. While there, he wrote letters to the churches in Phillippi, in Colosse, and in Ephesus. Excerpts from these letters:
• “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1: 6-7).
• “So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2: 7).
• “… you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
• “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
• “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church” (Colossians 1:24).

To me, there is no clearer example of spiritual freedom than the image of Paul sitting in a foul Roman prison chained to a Roman guard writing these words.

To summarize:
We obtained political freedom by winning.
We obtain spiritual freedom by surrendering.
When we are politically free we do what we want.
When we are spiritually free we do what God wants.

When we are obedient to God he rewards us by infusing us with an internal peace that the world cannot give and cannot understand. It surpasses human understanding because it can only come from God.

Please listen to Michelle Obama’s speech in its entirety, regardless of what party you belong to and/or which candidate you support.

Hillary Clinton‘s live video.

IWillVote.com

As I stated in a recent post I’ve been re-reading Jim Wallis’s book God’s Politics. The following excerpt really resonates with me:

“There are now three major political options in our public life. The first political option in America today is conservative on everything… The second political option in contemporary America is liberal on everything… The third option in American politics is libertarian, meaning liberal on cultural/moral issues and conservative on fiscal/economic and foreign policy. I believe there is a fourth option… It is traditional or conservative on issues of family values, sexual integrity and personal responsibility, while being very progressive, populist, or even radical on issues like poverty and racial justice. It affirms good stewardship of the earth and its resources, supports gender equality, and is more internationally minded than nationalist–looking first to peacemaking and conflict resolution when it comes to foreign policy questions…They can be pro–life, pro–family, and pro–feminist, all at the same time.”

I believe I could fit into this fourth category.

I have been writing posts recently in which I ask the question “Who has the problem?” because I’m getting really tired & frustrated with people around me who see conflict & controversy as bad, and see me as the problem when I verbalize opinions and positions that are not popular and/or in the majority in circles I find myself in.

During my six decades on this planet I have come across very few people who have a healthy attitude toward conflict. Rather, I have come across many individuals who are either conflict creators or conflict avoiders. Conflict creators thrive on conflict and crave it. They therefore go out of their way to create it. Conflict avoiders, on the other hand, are uncomfortable with conflict and run from it as if running for their life.

As a former approval seeker and people pleaser PAR EXCELLANCE, I fell into the category of conflict avoider. I gradually came to see though, that conflict is not inherently good or bad. It can be either productive or destructive depending on how it’s handled. It also seems to be an inevitable and unavoidable ingredient for change, particularly social and/or political change. It’s too bad it has to be this way, as I’m sure civil rights workers and women suffragists would attest to. However, it is what it is.

Political and social movements which have changed the course of human history have always been orchestrated by individuals with a clear vision, a consuming passion, the courage to swim upstream against the status quo and deal with the conflict and controversy this inevitably causes, and the perseverance to keep going no matter what.

I recently started re-reading Jim Wallis’s book God’s Politics. I read it 8 years ago and decided to pick it up again due to the inundation of presidential campaign news.

The following excerpt jumped out at me earlier today. What follows is a mixture of my paraphrasing and direct quotes.

Following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Martin Luther King Jr told President Johnson that “the next step on the road to freedom was a voting rights act, without which black Americans in the South would never be able to really change their communities. “ Johnson told King that it would be five to ten years before that law could be passed.

“But Martin Luther King Jr was not one to simply complain, withdraw, or give up. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) began organizing in a sleepy little town nobody had ever heard of, Selma Alabama. On one fateful day, SCLC leaders marched right across the Edmond Pettus Bridge, alongside the people of Selma, to face the notorious Sheriff Jim Clark and his virtual army of angry white police. On what would be called Bloody Sunday, a young man named John Lewis was beaten almost to death, and many others were injured or jailed.”

“Two weeks later, in response to that brutal event, hundreds of clergy from all across the nation and from every denomination came to Selma and joined in the Selma to Montgomery march…after the historic Selma to Montgomery march for freedom, it took only five months, not five years or ten, to pass a new voting rights act: the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

Who was wrong in this event? Were the people trying to right a perceived wrong the problem or were the people who used violence to maintain the status quo the problem?

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